Mini Project #10: the Altoids Tin-Derizer Aka the Ultimate Fire Kit





Introduction: Mini Project #10: the Altoids Tin-Derizer Aka the Ultimate Fire Kit

About: Hi I'm Alex and I love to make stuff! I mainly work with different metals but I also love to explore new (to me) materials and dabble in woodworking, jewelry, knife making, design and many more.

Hi Instructables Community,

to celebrate my 10th Mini Project here on Instructables and my Youtube Channel I decided to show you one of my favorite Altoids modifications. The concept for this Mini Project was inspired by the Gerber Bear Grylls Tinderbox. Although I do like most Gerber products I'm not too fond of its BG series and the price tag that comes with it. That's one reason why I decided to make my own the other was that I'm not convinced that the grater on the Gerber product will hold up well to abuse (Most reviewers seemed to have mixed feelings about it). While strolling through my favorite DIY Superstore I discovered a product made by Stanley in the woodworking section that looked perfect for my plan to modify an Altoids peppermint tin. Add a dual size pencil sharpener to the mix and you have a pocket sized tool get your fire burning when out and about.

Difficulty:Advanced (Power tools required)
Time:30 Minutes
Primary Use:Preparation of tinder and storage of fire making tools

Check out the video if you want to see the tool in action.

If you like this Instructable please vote, fav, share, subscribe & comment. I have just started my own Blog which you can visit here. You can also check my YouTube, Facebook and Twitter sites for current and upcoming projects.

I would also love to see pictures of the TinDerizers you made and your experience using them.

Take care & stay safe

Cheers Alex

Step 1: Materials and Tools Needed

  1. Stanley 21-515 Surform Shaver Blade (This is the 2 1/2" long version)

  2. 2 standard size Altoids tins

  3. Dual size pencil sharpener
  1. A rotary tool (i.e. Dremel Tool)
    1. Cut off wheel
    2. Sanding & deburring bits
  2. Tin snips
  3. Sandpaper (180 Grit)
  4. Metal file
  5. Fine point permanent marker
  6. Two part epoxy or other metal glue
  7. Your favorite selection of fire making items (matches, lighter etc.)

Step 2: Preparation

  1. Remove the lid of the first tin. This will become the dust cover for your fire kit. Keep the lower part for other projects.
  2. Slide the SurForm shaver blade onto the lower part of the other tin. This should be relatively easy and the blade should be held in place by friction alone.
  3. Use your marker to trace the outlines of the shaver blade and pencil sharpener onto the tin.
  4. Use a straight edge to draw your cut marks. These should be approx. 6mm - 1/4" inside of your traced outlines.

Step 3: Cutting & Deburring

Wear appropriate safety gear (Goggles, dust respirator & gloves) for the following steps!

  1. Use the cut off wheel to cut out the hole for the shaver and pencil sharpener.
  2. Use the sanding bit and deburring bits to deburr the cut edges. You can also use a metal file for this.
  3. Check if all openings are large enough for the shaver and sharpener, if not make adjustments accordingly.

Step 4: Gluing

  1. Use the sandpaper to roughen the surfaces in order for the glue to get a better hold.
  2. Mix a small quantity of epoxy (or JB weld) to glue the pencil sharpener into the box.
  3. I use two small clamps to hold the pencil sharpener in place during whilst the glue was curing.

Step 5: Making a Small Dust Cover

  1. Use the tin snips to cut a small piece of tin into shape which will act as a dust cover for the pencil sharpener.
  2. This will be held in place by friction from the two lids although you could glue it to one of the lids if you like.

Step 6: Test

  1. Use a small twig and use with the pencil sharpener to produce thin shavings. If the twig is wet from the outside simply wipe off as much moisture as possible. If the wood is dry inside this method will provide you with mostly dry tinder.
  2. The SurForm shaver works on the pull stroke and will produce fine curled shavings which are perfect to build your tinder nest or tinder bundle.

I will test this tool on various wood types to be able to make recommendations as to which to use or avoid. Dead, dry woods should work fine as long as they do not contain to much resin that could clog the shaver quickly.

Step 7: Completing the Kit

To complete my fire kit I've added the following items:

  1. Small ZipLoc bag that contains the blade during transport but can also be used to store dry tinder.
  2. Small silica gel bag to control humidity in the tin.
  3. Small ferrocerium rod with a hacksaw blade striker
  4. Damp proof matches from an MRE
  5. A small BIC lighter
  6. Two waterproof packed storm matches
  7. A small magnifying lens
  8. Last but not least a small packet of Vaseline - cotton ball mix as emergency tinder if nothing else is available.

I would also love to see pictures of the TinDerizers you made and your experience using them.

You can win a 3-Month Pro Membership for Instructables if you subscribe to my YouTube channel and leave me a comment at this video. I will announce the winner on Sunday the 6th Dec 15 here on my orangeboard as well as my Facebook, Twitter & Blog.



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    Hey I was wondering if it is ok to start the fire while it is in the tin? I was not sure because of things like the epoxy please answer soon if you can or if anyone can!?!?

    2 replies

    Hi BaselessL,

    I would say it depends on the epoxy you are using. If you intend from the beginning to start the fire inside the tin I would recommend to use a glue like JB Weld which is pretty heat resistant.

    Did you make this project yourself? If so I would love to see a picture of it (You can post it here with the "I made it" button.

    Cheers Alex

    Personal please call me Patrick thank you for the comment about the epoxy and I'm only now starting to build my fire thing. I was at Ace Hardware for a while and I was going to buy that epoxy but because of a budget that I had I was not able to get that so I'm building a second Altoids project that will give me a place to use the wood shavings. I'm not sure if you have any experience in the field of electronics was wondering if you can make a video game inside of a Altoids tin. I saw some videos on YouTube of people that made things like the old arcade game pong and I was wondering if you could do a step by step them all of that if you have any idea how to build those kind of things because that is the kind of thing that I would love to build it if you look up pong Altoids tin on YouTube you should see if you haven't watch the video already and there's something called a useless box and I saw him making an Altoids tin and it showed you can like the the layout of everything in the tin and I've always loved those things and if you don't know what it is just look up useless box. Sorry it wrote so much. Thanks for reading to the end

    Hey i don't have a Dremel or any similar power tool... do you think there is an alternative??


    1 reply

    Hi make_stuff,

    I suppose you could achieve an acceptable result with hand tools such as metal saws and files. When using a drill you could drill a number of access holes and use tin snips to cut out larger areas.

    Cheers Alex

    This is by far the most innovative fire starting kit I have ever seen. Way better than the usual flint and steel, char cloth, tinder kits I have seen. You should really consider making and selling these. Again, excellent build.

    3 replies

    Hi rocklocker, thanks a lot for reading and your great feedback it is really appreciated. I think I would get in trouble with Gerber if I started to make and sell these.

    Thanks again for taking the time to read & comment.

    Cheers Alex

    the design may be based on something traditional and thus not patentable by gerber, if i understand the laws

    HI altgrave, thats an interesting thought which I will have to look into.

    Cheers Alex

    I really enjoy all of your instructubles so I thought I should request for something:
    Can you make a survival kit that you can carry on an plane? Most of the things in these tin boxes are things that every flight disallows. So say we're in a plane and I need a survival kit.

    1 reply

    Hi Edward, that sounds like a great idea for a project. Since I worked as an Airport Aviation Security Manager for a few years I have a good idea on how to approach the subject. I will have to get updated on a number of recent changes and will update you soon.

    Thanks for your suggestion.

    Cheers Alex


    1 reply

    This is by far my favorite fire starting kit since it could be used for long term survival since you will never run out of wood. I would consider adding a flint to the kit so it makes it last even longer. Great ible

    1 reply

    Hi Lilchumy, thanks a lot for reading and commenting.

    Cheers Alex

    Awesome concept. This is truly inspired. I think I'll have to make a couple of these.

    1 reply

    Hi cestes1, thanks a lot for your kind words. I will look forward to see your TinDerizers so please post a pic when you are done ;)

    Cheers Alex